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From the time we are just wee, little ones learning a catchy rhyme, “Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day!” Until the present time when we stand aghast to read the news about yet another terrible rain event in the form of one or more hurricanes.

Rain is one of those things that we hate one minute but know the next, that we can’t exist without.IMG_0371

The most important element that we need to support life (any kind of life) is WATER!  It comes to us in the form of rain.  Rain fills the oceans and pushes the brooks into the streams, which form the rivers, etc.  So, we cannot do without rain!

 

Some climates have to live with little, or no rain, as in deserts.  Other places like rainforests, have to figure out how to handle the deluges.  As I recall the cliché is “feast or famine”!  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are usually in the “feast” category…but not always.  This is where our skill, as gardeners and farmers, comes into play!

Our gardens have to handle both an excess of water, or in the dryest season of summer hold onto the little we get.  In other words, sometimes we need to deal with drought, just as we need to deal with the occasional flood.  Generally in the PNW,img_5618 the rain is frequent, but light. It keeps us constantly damp it seems, but doesn’t rain enough to get down to the deep roots where it’s necessary in order to be of any use to the plant above.  So, what are we to do?

As gardeners (I’ll include farmers in that all encompassing word) we all know that along with water, the most important ingredient is the SOIL!  Just like water, soil comes in different forms as well.  In a desert, it’s sand.  In a rainforest, it is almost pure compost. If it rains in the desert, the water is gone almost as soon as it hits the ground, because sand does NOT hold water and the dampness is burned off by the sun.  In the rainforest, the water is enclosed in the rich, deep compost, held in the shade, and available for whatever time is necessary!

What do we learn from this?  In a desert, there are no plants dropping leaves, or falling onto the ground to rot…so there is no compost forming naturally.  In the rainforest, there are trees and plants galore, which shed leaves, break off branches, and support animals that leave their detritus.  All of this falls to the ground, rots and becomes compost.  Now, if we could just get the two together!!!!

THAT is where the gardener begins to display his or her skills, and brains! compost-hand

Essentially, there are three things you need in order to create good soil for your garden. The growing material itself (which we call the soil); water; and air.  We aspire to “perfect” this combination in order to grow our crop, be it vegetables or flowering plants.

BUT, the bottom line is that we need to take the RAIN and hold onto it long enough, and deep enough, for the plants to utilize it.  If a plant is watered and just the top of the soil is dampened, the roots have no way of getting to it.  That is an unhealthy situation.  The roots will aim upward to get to the water, leaving them vulnerable to the next burst of heat, which will dry those roots out, and eventually kill the plant.  Water deeply!  THAT is the weak spot in our rainy climate.  We think because it’s always raining, we shouldn’t need to water, but that is NOT necessarily the case.

We need to figure out how to adjust the soil in order to hold and convey the water down to the roots of the plants.  This is done by combining our soil with compost.  That compost also loosens the soil, allowing space for air to be incorporporated.  A good equation!

In Israel, they have turned the desert into farms.  Go to this site and read how they created this miracle.  But, certainly this is not what we have to do in our PNW gardens, is it?

The Spruce has a wonderful article about building soil to hold water.  It would be worth a visit.

Here’s a link from the University of Maine, Extension Service telling everything you’d possibly need to know about soil,

Here’s to Happy Gardening…and perfect rainfall!

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Last time, I talked about Bulb Lasagna, which was the technique of planting your bulbs in a container.  Today, I’ll talk about putting them right in your garden.  Let’s also realize that you probably have some bulbs already in place. Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 8.44.17 AM On my New Hampshire blog, I had an article about dealing with (already) planted bulbs this time of year.  Even though it talks about bulbs about to experience a rather cold winter, it will help you with fertilizers and treatment for wintering bulbs…no matter what the climate.  100_0120

A year ago, I had an entire blog entry about bulbs.  Here is the link for that.  No sense “re-writing” all the same stuff.  This link tells you the “how’s, why’s and where’s about bulb planting!

If you haven’t bought your bulbs yet, there’s still time.  You can get bulbs at any garden center.  You can also utilize a mail order nursery.  I belong to a Pacific North West Gardening Facebook site where I asked about local Nurseries.  I got two suggestions;  You can check them out here.  Easy To Grow Bulbs or  Roozengaarde in Mt. Vernon.

The nurseries I used ship worldwide, so they are also worth checking.  Their bulbs are “prime”!  White Flower Farm and John Scheepers.

 

BULB LASAGNA

I just read an article about Bulb Lasagna.  It had a link to Molbak’s Garden and Home page, explaining how to do it!  Here’s another article concerning this idea.  It looks like a GRAND idea!  Could I pull it off?  I’d need to add another pot into my garden of pots (pictured above).  Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 8.44.17 AMThis also might be a possibility for those of you who have “Juliet” balconies with flowers.  But, it may also give others of you some ideas on planting bulbs in general.  We’re getting close to that time.

I guess the idea is to have it in a sheltered area, avoiding the greatest threat of freezing.  Then the pot needs to be deep enough.  Ten (10) inches for two (2) layers and fourteen (14) inches for three (3) layers, etc.  It should be overplanted (on top) with a type of ground cover to keep it looking pretty when it’s not in bloom.

There are also suggestions that you plan on early, mid-season and late blooming bulbs in order to keep the show going longer!  This sounds like fun.

It also brings up the fact that we need to start thinking about planting bulbs in the garden.  Perhaps that will be my next blog entry.

 

The other evening, sitting with other HH residents during Sunny Monday, and while enjoying the D Level Garden, someone commented on a pink cluster of blooms, up on the C level.  Are they lilies or an amaryllis?

From that distance, my guess was lilies, others thought amaryllis.  I thought the best way to find out was to go and take a closer look.  We could also ask the gardener IMG_6290who has it in her garden!  So, I did both!

The gardener is Jane, whose photo I took in the spring, sitting in her garden. Her comment was that it was something she “inherited” when she took over the garden, so she really wasn’t sure WHAT it was!

When I looked at it, it was obviously an amaryllis.  How did I know?  An amaryllis has a straight stalk with strap like leaves coming up directly from the bulb.  A lily has short leaves, growing out from the stalk all the way from the bulb to the flower.

I took some photos of the pink amaryllis from the vantage point we had the other evening,

as well as a few close-ups where you can see it has a straight, leafless stalk from bulb to flower. IMG_6841 It is pretty much done blooming, but it sure was pretty when it was in it’s prime!IMG_6833 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

I also took some photos of lily plants.  They are done blooming and the blooms have been removed, but you can see the difference in the leaves on the stems.

Here is a link that will give you a better explanation about the differences between the amaryllis and lily.

Last week my post was about “dead-heading”.  The gardeners took my lead, and were busy trimming back those dead flower heads.  Someone suggested I post some pictures taken THIS week…when everything looks great.  So, here they are!

 

 

 

Is the garden looking a little tacky?  It’s probably time to be “deadheading”.IMG_6831

At some point, every flower will stop flowering and begin to “set seed”.  The plant’s entire goal in life is to regenerate itself. IMG_6825 When the flower dies all it’s energy goes into making seed.IMG_6820  Unless you WANT seed from that particular plant, it is best to remove the “dead head” of the flower.  If you do this, the plant will try, yet again, to make more seeds, which translates into MORE FLOWERS!  So, deadheading not only makes the plant look neater, it actually stimulates it to make more flowers.

I went down into the three gardening terraces this morning to take pictures of examples.  So, you may see some pictures you’d rather not brag about.  IMG_6823It’s rather like taking pictures of your apartment the day before the cleaning lady comes! (Sorry)  But, they are just examples of when you need to start snipping, picking, plucking and cutting.IMG_6821

Deadheading is when you remove the dead blossoms and plant material from your garden.  I’ll talk a bit about it here, but in the meantime, here’s a link with a YouTube video explaining, and showing how to do it.  Deadheading video

When you “dead-head”, you can remove just the dead blossom, or you can follow the stem holding the dead flower down to the next healthy leaf.  You don’t want to have stumps of ANYTHING in the garden.  When you are done, it should look neat.

If you want, you can just let the seeds fall onto the ground around the mother plant, and hope for more of the same coming up in the spring.  Or you can put the debris into the compost pile.  Just remember, if that compost doesn’t get HOT, those seeds will sprout!

Do watch the little video, it will show you exactly what to do, with a demonstration!  In the meantime, I’ll be looking for nice, neat gardens!  🌺🌻🌱

 

I would guess there were about 25-30 people who went on the Tree Walk last evening.  We stopped along the path to talk about 16 specific trees, but mentioned many others as well as having our questions answered by Alex and Doug from the First Hill Improvement Association.  We saw different varieties of Oak trees (Red, Scarlet, English, Pin) as well as Littleleaf Lindens, Elms, Katsura, Japanese Hornbeam, London Plane, California and Deodar Cedar.Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 11.11.36 AM

We learned about the benefits of having trees along our sidewalks.  Check out this web-site to get a better idea of how trees work for us in our cities.

In Seattle, our Department of Transportation Forestry division is tasked with caring for the Urban Forestry, along with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, AND the residents who bear responsibility for trees in their location.

First Hill has a tree canopy coverage of 36% which is the second highest in the city.  This is encouraged further by Seattle Dept. of Public Utilities through a program known as “Seattle reLeaf”.  This group provides free trees for planting in the public right-of-way, allowing folks to own and care for their own canopy!

Anyway, trees are a big part of our lives, offering all kinds of benefits.  Treat them gently!

This morning I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to do some Geocaching for plants in our gardens? IMG_6752 I tried that in New Hampshire before we came here.  Actually, it was pretty unsuccessful.  I searched for a full day on a covered bridge looking for one of those danged caches!  I never did find it!  So, it would have to be pretty simple.  BUT, Geocaching also requires that you have a GPS.  That might be a bit tricky here as a lot of folks have some difficulties using their cell phones…a GPS would present some (even) more rather unique issues!!!

So I tried “googling” Geocaching horticultural stuff.  Hmmm…  Not so successful (kind of like looking for a geocache on a covered bridge!)IMG_6779  BUT, one of the Q&A sites suggested using a Scavenger Hunt idea instead (in reaction to a query from a parent looking for a geocaching “thing” for a birthday party).  Well, THAT sounds like a practical solution for us!  Maybe I could set up a Scavenger hunt, for plants or sculptures (Kappa?)in our gardens.

That would be a way for us to begin to learn about plants and trees, and even sculptures.  I’m going to put my “thinking cap” on and see what kind of ideas I come up with.  Maybe some of you might make comments below about either how to do it, or items we might list.  We could even think of some kind of “reward” for finding the proper “target”!

What do you think???

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